Torra calls for unity to bring about "democratic mandate for freedom" in 2019

In January, the Catalan Government will push for recovery of social laws suspended by the Constitutional Court

Marc Toro
3 min
La Moncloa resta credibilitat  al discurs de Torra

Quim Torra, President of the Generalitat, made clear that 2019 should serve to "make the democratic mandate for freedom a reality". This was at the center of the traditional New Year's message, in which he emphasized that to achieve this goal as well as to face the "Oct 1st" trial "we must be more unified." In a speech that included greetings from the political prisoners and exiles, Torra stated that this next year will be "decisive" and called for the public "to rebel against injustice" and "to bring down the walls of oppression." "Catalans will be what we want to be [...] We are prepared for the year of freedom, which is now upon us," he concluded.

Without specifying what form this "democratic mandate" should take, the head of government strongly insisted on the need, in the face of the "assault" of repression, for "democrats to be united and supportive" in defense of civil, social, and political rights. A sum of efforts, he said, that must allow for "isolating and denouncing the extreme right and fascism," but also make "self-determination" possible. Faced with the differences between JxCat and ERC regarding the roadmap toward the Republic, Torra asked for everyone to leave behind "mistrust" and "differences that might separate us." "Let generosity be the vehicle of our collective expression," he added.

One week after meeting in Barcelona with Spanish president Pedro Sánchez, Torra reiterated that the government will not stop "insisting on dialogue" and "negotiation", as well as on "essential international mediation". At the meeting between the heads of government at the Palau de Pedralbes, Catalan and Spanish executives committed themselves to continue talking so as to find a political solution to the conflict with Spain, and Torra took the opportunity to once again give notice to the PSOE government that the dialogue must be "credible, sincere, and courageous for a democratic and political solution."

Along these same lines, the president also appealed to the "consensus" that he said brings together 80% of Catalan society: "That we are and we feel Republican, we do not accept criminal repression, [...] and we want to exercise our right to self-determination," he enumerated, assuring that his "main concern", and that of the Catalan Government, throughout 2019 will be to make a Catalonia "based in freedom" possible. Either way, the Moncloa has already closed the door repeatedly on the possibility of an agreed-upon referendum, and only foresees that the Catalans will be able to vote for a double reform of the Constitution and the Statute that would grant Catalonia more self-government.

In the list of resolutions for the year that is about to begin, Torra committed to guaranteeing "the social rights of everyone", and for this reason announced that in the first executive council of the year the Catalan Government will launch the "legislative process" to "make effective" the social laws suspended by the Constitutional Court (TC). It remains to be seen how these rules are re-approved after the PSOE has committed to lifting the veto imposed by the PP government and has withdrawn some of the appeals presented to the high court by the Mariano Rajoy administration.

Torra reserved a part of the speech to serve notice that 2019 will be "a year of major challenges", among which he especially highlighted the trial against the pro-independence leaders who will be tried in the Supreme Court. "They are innocent, they fulfilled what we asked of them and they need to come home," he said, confident that "the people of Catalonia will know how to face a decisive year for everyone." However, he called on the public to recover the spirit of Oct 1st and Oct 3rd under the "banners" of "democracy, justice, and non-violence."

The 2017 New Year's message, on social networks

Torra recovered the tradition of the New Year's institutional message after last year's declaration could not be delivered due to the application of 155. The now-former president Carles Puigdemont at that time broadcast a video message via social networks from exile in Brussels. Without clarifying what his political future would be, Puigdemont urged the then Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, to "recognize the result of the December 21st elections and begin political negotiations with the legitimate Government of Catalonia."